Tuesday, January 1, 2008

my new year's resolution...use less plastic

I recycle my plastic, but the huge flaw in that reasoning is that the best case scenario is that it just makes more plastic. I am not saying that I will get down to zero plastic, but I can certainly do much better.

below is an excerpt from this article here.

More than 120 billion pounds of plastic resin are created in the U.S. alone - but only three to five percent of that is recycled in any way. Indeed, unlike glass, it is not possible to fully recycle plastic.

This news is depressing enough to make a person reach for the bottle. Glass, at least, is easily recyclable. You can take one tequila bottle, melt it down, and make another tequila bottle. With plastic, recycling is more complicated. Unfortunately, that promising-looking triangle of arrows that appears on products doesn’t always signify endless reuse; it merely identifies which type of plastic the item is made from. And of the seven different plastics in common use, only two of them — PET (labeled with #1 inside the triangle and used in soda bottles) and HDPE (labeled with #2 inside the triangle and used in milk jugs) — have much of an aftermarket. So no matter how virtuously you toss your chip bags and shampoo bottles into your blue bin, few of them will escape the landfill — only 3 to 5 percent of plastics are recycled in any way.

“There’s no legal way to recycle a milk container into another milk container without adding a new virgin layer of plastic,” Moore says, pointing out that, because plastic melts at low temperatures, it retains pollutants and the tainted residue of its former contents. Turn up the heat to sear these off, and some plastics release deadly vapors. So the reclaimed stuff is mostly used to make entirely different products, things that don’t go anywhere near our mouths, such as fleece jackets and carpeting. Therefore, unlike recycling glass, metal, or paper, recycling plastic doesn’t always result in less use of virgin material.


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